The Attacks on Teachers and Unions in Wisconsin Should Concern Everyone

Photo by Emily Mills

Fifty years ago saying you were a “poor teacher” was redundant.  Teachers were mostly women who wanted to teach, not to get rich, but because they loved kids.

However, 50 years ago, teachers and education support staff such as school secretaries and lunch ladies were expected to be polite and obedient and accept what they were given.  They had no power to come together and bargain a better salary with administrators, who were, coincidently, mostly men.  They were constantly exploited and underpaid.

Wisconsin, 50 years ago, became the first state in the country to do something about that.

They gave public employees, like teachers, the right to come together and negotiate for something better.  When you negotiate, you have to work within a budget; you don’t get everything you want, but it stopped the exploitation of individuals.  It meant that teachers and school support staff could move into the middle class and be treated with respect.  Wisconsin should be proud of that.

And Wisconsin should be ashamed of a governor who threatens to reverse that proud history.

Governor Scott Walker says it’s all about the budget.  But that doesn’t make sense.  The teachers and support staff and their unions have already agreed to sit down and work together for what schools need, acknowledging that it will have to fit within an austere budget.  They’re not at impasse.  No unreasonable demands have been made.

This is about politics and payback.  This is about punishing people who didn’t support his election, and it’s shameful.

Teachers today are still mostly women.  They are still modestly paid.  They still become teachers because they love kids.   But because they have had a voice in education issues, they have become a powerful force in making Wisconsin public schools some of the best in the country.

What possible good can come from silencing that voice?

And all of us, whether in a union or not, should care about what’s happening here.  In fact, maybe it’s more important for those who don’t have a union.   The ability of modestly paid people to collectively bargain something better has helped build the great middle class of our great country, even among non-union members.

Because of the collective action of unions over the past 50 years, all of us enjoy a 40 hour work week, overtime, a weekend!  We have a minimum wage.  We have health and safety protections in our work places and protections against discrimination because of our age, our gender, our religion or our race.  Who will provide the balance – the check – to the power of politicians if our unions are silenced?

Many with corporate and political power supported Governor Walker.  Many of these powerful supporters don’t like unions.  They don’t like the check and balance unions provide for the middle class on their power.

They believe they have found a pretext to destroy it by gutting unions that have been the most powerful voice standing up for the middle class.  Laugh when these politicians tell you it’s about the budget.  Wisconsin has balanced tight budgets before without destroying the rights of ordinary people to come together.  This is a partisan attack.  This is about punishing certain unions for having the temerity to speak truth to power.

In Wisconsin, the good people who work for public schools will never give up their responsibility to challenge the powerful when they are wrong.  We will never give up our responsibility to fight for a better life for our children and our communities’ children.

We may seem an easy target to powerful politicians.  We are mostly women.  We work with children.  We are not wealthy.  But we have a treasure worth fighting for.  We have each other.  We will never give up our collective voice to speak the truth.

48 Responses to “The Attacks on Teachers and Unions in Wisconsin Should Concern Everyone”

  1. Chantal

    Great and powerful words! May your message be heard!

  2. Brenda Johnson

    I love teachers but hate the union. I live in NJ and cannot afford the increases in taxes (which mostly go to the school system) year after year. Good luck govenor. Let the fight begin! Any teacher who called out sick to attend these rallies should be fired on the spot. With unemployment stuck at 10% replacements will not be hard to find.

  3. PD

    Teachers are a wonderful bunch, if they are doing their job as required. Please go back to the classroom and teach your students. Integrity first (you called in sick and went to a rally?), service before self (teach the next generations HOW to think, not WHAT to think), and do it all with excellence.

    I am a government employee, and will say we have it pretty good; much better than the private sector when it comes to entitlements. We need to stop having our neighbor pay all my benefits through his/her taxes. We need to invest in our retirement, not have my neighbor invest in my retirement.

  4. Marie

    People who called off who attended the rally are trying to protect themselves. Put in the same position, you would do the exact same thing. Teachers are NOT responsible for the recession/financial crisis! Yes, we love our students, but we love OURSELVES as well. We have to protect ourselves, and shame on those people who disagree.

  5. Karolyn Taylor

    I am a Milwaukee Public School teacher. I did not call in sick however I support all of my colleagues who bravely decided to fight for public workers, children and families. I went to work because our children do need us.

    The nation is watching and God is watching. The time is now for all who believe in fairness and family to make take action!

  6. CC

    Can you sit there and do your job if your job is being attacked? I work in NJ public schools. Maybe if our Governor stopped waging war on the Middle class with his class warfare people could see that teachers aren’t to blame for this recession. He is turning the middle class against eachother while putting his cronies in places of power. Look to Wall Street that is who you blame for this recession. The rich get richer in the state of NJ but the teachers ge the blame

  7. Chi

    The teachers are responsible for the budget crisis and government spending is responsible for the budget – but NOT the Wall Street sharks who gambled with the economy and lost. Why is it that teachers and government employees (and the lower and middle classes) are forced to make sacrifices for bankers who continue to make a fortune? This country has lost its mind. I truly think it will take very dark dark days before we gets mobilized and demands a government that provides services for ourselves and our children – instead of rolling over and letting the very wealthy continue to exploit our misery.

  8. Chris Rojas

    Watching these teachers and union thugs protesting is amazing. So out of touch. Such a sense of entitlement. Always standing behind the “kids” when demanding more and more for themselves. What the govenor is asking for is chump change. He needs to go further. If we truly care about the “kids” we need to cut our spending and debt. Good bless the govenor! He’s a heroic man! Shame on the democrats and their subsidiary the NEA.

  9. Shawn

    Wisconsin’s teachers and other public employees are not protesting pay freezes or cuts in benefits. The bill the governor has sent to the legislature would abolish the right to collective bargaining. THAT is what is being protested. All workers have the right to free association and collective bargaining.

    The post WWII expansion of the middle class was brought about by unionized labor. Labor unions also brought American workers the minimum wage, work site safety regulations and God bless them, the weekend!

    Since 1980, unions, especially in the private sector, have steadily lost their influence and look at the result. A steady decline in the middle class, stagnant wages, and America’s industrial base shipped abroad.

    The NEA must use all at its disposal to help Wisconsin’s public employees win. If they fail it will create a domino effect and spread to every state in the union. Why should teachers, among the least paid professionals in the country, pay for a financial problem created by a governor’s tax breaks for corporations.

  10. mbhaub

    The teachers who have called in sick, who have taken fake doctor’s notes should be ashamed and should be fired. In these tough economic times we teachers have it pretty damned good. Our retirement pension is fantastic compared to many who lost their 401ks. We have our health insurance paid for by the taxpayers. Wisconsin teachers have it really good: they pay barely anything for retirement and nothing for insurance. They have NOTHING to be complaining about. You are doing terrible damage to the profession and you’re going to create huge public backlash. There are many times when I am ashamed of having membership in the NEA, and now is one of them.

  11. Shawn

    I am a proud teacher and a proud member of the NEA!

  12. teacheraubs

    The governor is not trying to disband the unions!! He is simple asking them to do what business in the private sector have been having to do for some time now, respond to the recession! All that has been asked is that they take some out of retirement and health benefits. Those are not rights people. They are extras and extras have to be the first to be looked at when cut backs are a necessity. Get the facts about what is ACTUALLY being passed and stop clouding the issue and making it something it’s not. More power to the Governor! P.S. I’m a teacher in one of the lowest paid states and would support this in my state as well.

  13. James

    Democrats/liberals/unions = “Me, Myself and I”.

    Governor Walker should do to teachers who don’t show up for work what President Regan did when members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization didn’t show up for work…FIRE THEM ALL!

    Then, of course, there’s all those cry baby Democratic Senators who have run away with their tails between their legs because they won’t get their way if they show up for work. FIRE THEM TOO!

  14. Shawn

    Wrong teacheraubs! The governor is trying to abolish the right to collective bargaining. As far as Reagan is concerned, he should have been hung for treason before the Alzheimer’s set in.

  15. butch

    Quit giving multinational corporations tax breaks and all of a sudden we may have a few more dollars to spend! Its not like they hire or care about Americans anyway. Cut taxes to corporations and businesses then blame teachers for the budget shortfall. Walker has a great plan and has duped many people. Any teacher supporting this plan must have a real low self-worth. Why aren’t you as valuable to society as a corporation? Without you they wouldn’t have anyone with half a brain to hire.

  16. Ruth

    Shame on all of you who speak out against teachers fighting for their rights. IF your job you went to school for years for was in jeopardy of being controlled by people who have no idea what goes on in a school you would stand up and fight too.

    Many teachers work two jobs to support their families. We spend countless hours after school working with YOUR children while neglecting our own families. We spend OUR own money to buy supplies for our classroom because the government keeps taking money away from the schools. We are fighting for the schools, being a teacher is not a job a selfish person takes.

    We need to quit blaming each other and look to our politicians! They vote for their own raises every year and the NEVER pay for their own benefits, but teachers pay for benefits and don’t get raises every year.

    One more piece of information for the people who think they know but don’t,

    Teachers DO NOT get paid in the summer, we choose to get paid by taking less through the school year so we can still get a paycheck in the summer.

    Everyone had a good teacher they remember throughout school, think of that person when you start talking against the teachers.

  17. Jennifer

    I find it interesting that those who want to say teachers and other public service employees are being selfish for standing up for ourselves, have either forgotten, or are not aware, that many of us have already made concessions and are working for less income and less benefits than we did five years ago, two years ago, and less than we did even last year.

    Also if you take into account the amount of education and experience we have acquired in our fields, we make less then our counterparts in the private sector. We do not do what we do because it will get us rich (not even close)or because it is glamorous (case and point- how we are continually blamed for everything), but because YOUR children and the future of this country are important to us.

  18. Jon Dzurka

    Gee Lily I almost felt for your ploy. The problem is you work for the people not the other way around. The people on average pay 20 percent of there health care, you pay nothing. The average person doesnt get a pension you do. If as you say teaching is what it all about, then what are you teaching the children by walking out of your job, calling in sick (which your students need a legit doctors excuse for). Your argument fails because you omitted the people who pay your benefits. The very same people who work 12 months a year while you work 9 or 10.

  19. Kathy DuPuis

    To those who have expressed their support for Gov. Walker and say that teachers are only out to protect their benefits and salaries, have you not kept up with the news? They and other public union members realize that financial concessions must be made and want to sit down and discuss these areas. It’s the Governor who won’t do this. He’s the one allowing this protest to continue and build momentum. What teachers are fighting for is respect, for their right to be heard, their right to continue to discuss the best ways to improve education: class size, safety, curriculum, professional development, and other working conditions that contribute to the success of the students they teach. They are fighting for fairness for all. This is best done when the right to bargain is present. They are fighting for the right to collective bargaining…a right to be a part of the decisions that effect their work. Those states that have none or few enabling them to collectively bargain, are states and school districts that have in most cases poor and inadequate working environments and learning environments. I’m proud of my Wisconsin fellow teachers!

  20. Heather

    As a public school teacher in MI, I have made concessions. We know and understand the economy affects all of us and we do our part. But we should continue to have the right to discuss and bargain with our local districts to work out a fair agreement. That is all we are asking. We have done so in the past and our district still balances the budget every year and has a substantial savings account they continue to add to each year! By the way, we DO pay for insurance, we DO pay for our required continued education, have NOT received raises every year, and have larger class SIZES. We are watching you in Wisconsin, stay strong!

  21. Gwenyth Kieser

    You have my support – all the way from Michigan! I am a fellow teacher and completely agree with you! This isn’t about wages or insurance…it is about our right to negotiate and have a voice. Well said!

  22. Wendi Smith

    I am PROUD to be a TEACHER.
    I am a PROUD member of NEA.
    I stand in unity with the teachers in WI.

    I DO pay for my benefits.
    I DO pay into my RETIREMENT FUND + a 403b.

    In addition I pay taxes, obey the laws and put a lot of money back into the economy every day.
    In addition to teaching- I serve as a NURSE, a COUNSELOR to both parent and child, and a PARENT.
    I LOVE teaching and wouldn’t chose another career but I do deserve to be treated fairly.

  23. Lori

    It’s a shame how so many people speak negatively of teachers fighting for their collective bargaining rights but wouldn’t DARE let their own child have to suffer in some of the conditions these teachers work in daily.

    My step daughter (from a previous marriage) is attending a Detroit Public School. Keep in mind, this school district has a Chief Financial Officer working to “clean up the system”. Her school has approximately 500 students and SHOULD have at least 20 teachers. This is a high school in Detroit where electives should be offered etc. They HAD 11 teachers and are now down to 9. There are Seniors and Freshman taking English classes together since there is “no where to put them”. Classes had over 40 students in a class and some are up to 55. Many of these students have to sit on the window sills in classrooms since there is no where for them to sit in class. All of the teachers there have lost their prep hours due to the increased capacity (2 major high schools in the city near them have closed as well meaning their enrollment had to increase). Many students may not even graduate since they are down to ONE counselor and she is so backlogged that she has not been able to make sure that many students are in the right classes let alone help them prepare/mail off college information!

    So when you think of “Getting Rid of Unions”, THINK TWICE!!! This is why they exist to make sure people have a right to voice to make a change for the better than keep mum and deal with these situations.

  24. Shawn

    What happened to the budget surplus Wisconsin’s former governor left? His Republican replacement, Scott Walker, blew it on tax cuts for corporations! If the people of Wisconsin want their state’s budget balanced, then they should elect another Democrat as governor.

  25. Heidi

    @ Jon Dzurka, You should not speak about that which you don’t know. Teachers DO pay for benefits and they DO pay into their pension funds. Others don’t receive a pension because they receive Social Security which teachers DO NOT…..

  26. new lamby

    Right on Brenda Johnson,

    I’m all for good pay, but we can’t afford to pay lifetime medical and pay benefits to retirees. This has been building for a while.

    Sorry but good luck gov

  27. hip

    New Lamby,

    What are you smokin? DO you care to back up what you smear? (facts)

    Here in Wa state teachers get 30% of their salary and no, nada, zero lifetime medical benefits after 30 years of service.

    I am thinking there are some serious lies and damn lies going on.

    If it was that good- why aren’t you a teacher? All you have to do is spend about $100,000 for 5 years of college.No…. you probably know that beginning teachers start in around $28K in Wisconsin. For that kind of money you would have to really care about kids or be truely crazy.

  28. Dayrdee

    America is a democracy and I fully support and am active in standing up for what I believe in. However, one thing that I dislike about being a teacher is that I am forced to be a union member. Education is not being threatened by the Governor of WI wanting to make changes, rather Education is threatened by the continuation of an unsustainable process. If this is a true democracy then teachers should be able to put an ‘X’ on their application to be union or non-union. It is a known fact that as soon as a union is involved the costs go up, and in this day where the economy is uncertain, any and all options of cost cutting should be entertained.

    I am also appalled a the omission of morality and ethics that teachers and Dr.’s of WI are demonstrating to our nations youth by lying and providing and using fraudulent sick notes. This does not help to garner teachers a favorable public opinion already fractured by the documented decay of public education in part by the protectionism of unions through tenure.

    I was raised to take care of myself and my family and give to the community that I live in. I became a teacher knowing that my annual income was not going to be substantial, rather the real income would be from the smiles of children learning. I pay for my medical. I pay for my own self-managed pension. And still I manage, even after the union takes their cut. Stop hiding behind the unions and saying you deserve it. If this is your mantra then you really are not a teacher.

  29. Alek Hidell

    Many of us remember the education majors in college… always partying, hardly breaking a sweat…. then there were the engineers. Studying every night, working problems all the time. The Pre Meds, they were all cracking books to get a 4.0 GPA to get in med school. Ditto for the vet medicine majors.

    The ones that worked the hardest in college reap the higher salaries. Simple economics.

  30. Heidi Caven

    Some teachers are great. Probably not the ones at the protests though. The way the system works SHOULD be illegal. Mostly Democratic pols shove money to the public unions. Public unions bribe those same pols with contributions, labor during elections, astro turf (bused in protestors) like whats going on in Madison, Trenton, etc. There’s no market check (except for the election that the govenor won — that’s actually what democracy looks like). People are waking up to the hole were putting ourselves and our children in. God’s speed Govenor Warner, Christie, etc. Call them and support them today!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  31. Colin

    To all the people who said the teachers are just complaining, and thinking of themselves, I have one word for you. History.

    Study it.

    On May 2nd, 1933, the day after Labor day, Nazi groups occupied union halls and labor leaders were arrested. Trade Unions were outlawed by Adolf Hitler, while collective bargaining and the right to strike was abolished. This was the beginning of a consolidation of power by the fascist regime which systematically wiped out all opposition groups.

    This is not a budget solution. This is purely political and obscenely frightening.

  32. Ryan (WTA Rep)

    I’m pro-choice! I’m pro freedom! We are not forced to be on a sport team. We are not forced to eat a particular food. We are not forced to drive a particular car, but somehow it is okay to force us teachers into a union.

    I’m speaking from California, where you must join the local union, CTA, and ultimatley the NEA to get a job.

    Many are pro choice when it comes to gay marriage or abortion, but hell no to giving individuals the right to opt out of the union and recieve all their dues back.

    It’s an issue of freedom and the Wisconsin Republicans are simply trying to extend the option to public union employees.

    If the cage we are in is so wonderful, you shouldn’t fear us fleeing once the door is open.

  33. Jason the Student

    To Colin…

    Nazi groups? Hitler? Really? I hope you’re a drama teacher because you’re way over the top. To equate Wisonsin with WWII Germany show a stunning lack of perspective. Geeeeesh!

  34. Dan Y

    I can’t imagine how teacher’s unions have gained so much power. It’s not right, and it’s hurting the education of our children. Teachers, you’re not so special that you deserve the right for me to pay for your retirement pensions. I’m a public employee, and I disagree with this policy so much that I match my pension, dollar for dollar – I don’t get the right to not take it.

    Whatever happened to freedom of choice? Why can’t teachers choose to opt out of these unions? They should have the choice and the right to represent themselves if they so choose. The school districts should have the right to fire any teacher they want, just like any other job in the private sector. Collective bargaining just hurts the organization, and in this case, the organization is funded by the taxpayer.

    Stop trying to burden the taxpayer with your entitlements – help pay for your own health insurance! Help pay for your own Pensions! Your job is paid for by the taxpayer – if a teacher is not doing a good job, then they should be fired – stop protecting the poor teachers!

  35. Stacey Conroy-Ondusko

    I support the Wisconsin teachers and have sent e-mails to Governor Walker. Teachers in New Jersey for decades have given up higher pay for better health care. Teachers in New Jersey make 11% less than the medium income of the state while other teachers across the nation make 4% above the medium income. The private sector can earn bonuses and stock options. We don’t have that luxury. As the markets improve so will the private sectors salaries, bonuses, etc… Once you lose a right (like collective bargaining) or a health care package–school employees never get it back. We pay for our pensions every day we go to work. Over a decade ago Governor Whitman made the mistake of taking our petition money to gamble it in the stock market and she lost. I am not going to pay for her mistake and no one else should either–it can be budgeted appropriately if the legislators would just try.

    Also, I would gladly work summers rather than continue with this ancient farming culture of two months off, so the children can help on the farm. Farming is a small part of the New Jersey economy now. The children should be in school learning and not losing the valuable information that they have learned over a wasted summer break. Not all children are lucky and have great parents that make sure they are engaged all summer rather than using television as a babysitter!

  36. Eric


    Agree with you about kids going to school year round (I’m sure the NJEA would want a 25% raise though) but the poverty cry is getting old, old, old. See the below link for pay at my kid’s school — Hunterdon Central Regional High School. Lots of 6 figure salaries. When you tack on the pension, healthcare, holidays, etc….it’s breathtaking and unsustainable.

    I also sent e-mails. But they were to support both Christie and Walker in their efforts to rein in the government unions. For years here in NJ its been the quid pro qou of the NJEA funneling money and support to the democrats and democrats funneling taxpayer money back to the unions. I remember personally having NJEA members banging on my door when I lived in New Brunswick trying to get me out to vote for Corzine (an actual Wall Street / Goldman Sachs profiteer & ally of your union). He was even sleeping with the head of another public union but I won’t even go into that now.

    My property taxes on a modest house hit $12K last year — $1000 a month! — w/ an overwhelming percentage going to the schools. Every modest raise my wife and I have received over the past few years has been eaten up by the blob down in Trenton. It’s getting to the point where we just can do it anymore. The idea that we’re all out here getting big bonuses, stock options is a quite frankly a joke. One made by someone who may be drinking the union cool-aid bumper sticker rhetoric a little too deeply.

    You sound like a thoughtful teacher and a good perosn. It’s a shame that the NEA, NJEA, etc…is doing so much to bring down the status of teachers in society. When I look at the protestors in Madison and Trenton, I think they should take the anti bullying classes my kids are required to take. Also the far-left stance the NEA takes on pretty much everything does not help you connect with those outside the public education system too.

  37. swips88

    The Union has a stranglehold on the public that pays their benefits. It is not a class issue at all! We in the Middle Class, are paying the benefits for unionized Public workers, not the evil rich.

    Only once the majority of us in the middle class gets the same pay, benefits, and time off as those in the unionized public sector can these Union people use the class warfare argument truthfully.

    In today’s economy it’s those Unionized gov’t workers who are the chosen ones! If you argue that the way to get what you want is to tax the evil rich, then you better protest for the rest of us in the middle class too. But that will never happen because there is not enough rich people to tax to bring the rest of us in the private sector middle class up to the level of current pay and benefits that you enjoy.

    Those of you who support this kind of excess have no idea what your pay and benefits actually cost. No Private Sector middle class worker gets what you get because no private sector business could afford it! A look at what has happened to the auto industry should be proof enough. Only the largest most profitable of private businesses can still provide a pension for employees and those that do are not as generous as what unionized public workers receive. How can a worker “earn” a lifetime of pay and benefits after working 25 or even 30 years? That worker could live another 30 years in retirement! There is no way he/she “earned” this! Truth is, someone else is paying for it. It’s a Ponzi scheme just like Social Security.

    Therefore Unions, plain and simple, are being selfish protesting for something above and beyond what the rest of in the middle class receive or can afford.

  38. Ryan N.

    Will all you geniuses who are accusing the teachers for calling out sick please acknowledge that you have no idea what the school calendar is like? Is it possible that PERHAPS the teachers were on a break (hint: many were)? Or is it possible that perhaps some of these folks were not teachers but are other public employees who have vacation days? You know, the kind of stuff that unions fought for in the first place?

    And BTW, nice going Brenda. “I love teachers, but hate the union.” Teachers ARE the union. You are telling teachers you love them but don’t want to pay for them if they’ll affect your taxes. Sounds like you love them all the way to the poorhouse.

  39. Ryan N.

    swips88: How do you expect the rest of the middle class to get these kinds of benefits? Waiting for the company to bestow them upon you? Unions are the LAST line of defense against these kinds of cuts. The majority of you already pissed away the things we have. Don’t forget it was not that long ago that all major companies paid for benefits. Fighting for things that not everyone has is EXACTLY what unions do, and most of the rest of you have benefited from it. Time to step up or shut up.

  40. Maryann Woods-Murphy

    Lilly – I love you! You always ofter a to-the-point, right on, passionate take on issues!!! Thank you!

    I’m sharing a CBS clip that just aired on Thursday. Viva la gente – recuerdas que hablamos en el NEA Gala el ano pasado con el profesor de espanol?????? Suerte!


  41. Brenda Johnson

    Ryan N: I am paying my way. Household income is about $67K (between both spouses) and my property taxes on a 2500 square foot house on .19 acres is $9K per year. As I said before — the majority of NJ property taxes go to the school system. If taxes continue to go up significantly like they have for years…we will have to move to avoid ending up in the “poorhouse”. Several of my family members have left the state in attempt to keep more of what they earn.

    By your language and demenor, I hope you’re not a teacher.

  42. angela d.

    @Eric: Keep in mind that Principals and Assistant Principals, Superintendents, etc. are not union employees…… and why shouldn’t a teacher with an advanced degree that’s been teaching for 20+ years that’s now in a supervisory position (of which the duties are in addition to their classload) not make a 6-figure income? They would in the private sector……..

  43. angela d.

    @Colin: I totally agree with you, “This is not a budget solution. This is purely political and obscenely frightening.”

    @Ryan (WTA Rep): I’m in Cali, too. I hear what your saying about the union not being an option. The thing is, we all benefit from the union… if there was an option in the dues, many would be happy to benefit without paying into the pool. The protection that the union offers has real value. I don’t always agree with their platforms or what they throw their money at, but I do know that overall they have the best interests of students and teachers at heart.

    Large corporations and rich individuals give huge dollars to politicians and their parties to advocate in favor of them. The middle class has no such voice. The only way to have a voice is to organize. That’s where the union comes in. Unions are responsible for the 40-hour workweek, 8 hour days, child labor laws……….. Teachers in California do not receive health benefits into retirement as part of their retirement plan, they get it from the state like the “normal” people. We pay a lot into CalSTRS (our retirement), it’s not a free ride. A majority of teachers (and other educated pulic employees) make less than they could in the private sector. The government agreed to the benefits that everyone is “jealous (?)” of in exchange for lower wages. You can’t just strip that away. It would be one thing to compensate all workers retroactively first and then take away the bargaining chip, but you know that will never happen. Politicians know that being a public employee (especially a teacher – since that’s where my stand comes from) is a career chosen primarily for the intrinsic benefits that it provides (the feel-good part). Therefore, the gov’t knows that many in those positions would continue to do their jobs, because they love what they do and feel that they have a true impact on the future regardless of the compensation and that would suck!

  44. Eric

    @angela d.

    Thanks for reading and responding to my post. I guess my question back to you would be if a 6 figure teacher would truly be open to being a “professional.” By this I mean they would negotiate their own pay based upon individual ability and merit (as opposed collective bargaining), work year round (3 weeks vacation plus sick days), be “exempt” and open to working long hours w/o expectation of additional incremental pay, working “at will” and with the possibility of being fired w/o cause, paying much more for health insurance and saving for retirement through a 401K style plan (w/ 3% match) as opposed to a traditional pension. If teachers are open to that scenario…I think most folks would have less of an issue with large salaries like the ones noted. Look forward to your reply.

  45. Jan

    Did you not notice that angela d. said the ‘professionals’ (principals, etc) are not part of the unions? What Professionals work in the conditions you described? Professionals have six figure incomes, those earlier in their careers 60-100K, and included medical benefits of 10,000 and combined pension benefits of 10,000 or more. Teachers make less than their counterparts with the same education. As wages have decreased, we are all working more and instead of us all fighting to get a decent wage from companies making record profits, we are fighting each other to pull everyone down lower and lower. We need to all band together to be paid what we are worth, not take down the few that haven’t gotten decimated yet!

  46. mp

    Actually I believe that in Wisconsin teachers cannot be forced to belong to the union. As a former teacher I would be glad to see a law that teachers who do not wish to be in the union would not have to pay union dues. But in return they would need to rebate somewhere around 20% of their salary and benefits back to their employer. If they want the salary and benefits then they need to pay their fair share of the costs to negotiate those benefits. Also it should be noted that employers pay most if not all the cost of pension because in Wisconsin when teachers were given a total package settlement, they requested that the money they could have taken in salary be put into benefits such as health insurance and the state pension fund. In hindsight with the anomosity that people have toward teachers, it would have been better to have just taken the money in salary instead.

  47. If You Blog, Blog About Education… - Lily's Blackboard – Lily's Blackboard

    […] Bloggers who care about reining in corporate greed should care about attacks against my union. […]

  48. sportske

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